Banner Olive Branch Senior Center pivots quickly to feed low-income seniors during pandemic


A $100,000 grant to the Banner
Olive Branch Senior Center will
support the increased demand
for services to ensure seniors
have consistent and reliable
access to foods and nutrients
they need maintain good health.

COVID-19 safety precautions required Banner Olive Branch Senior Center to suspend its congregate meals program, preventing low-income seniors from enjoying the free nutritious lunch they had come to enjoy alongside their friends each weekday at the Center. Some clients, like Greta*, who lost her husband to COVID-19, feared leaving home for basic items like food and struggled with social isolation – a painful reality shared by countless others.

To ensure no one in need went hungry, Olive Branch quickly shifted to a pick-up-and-go meal service and expanded its home-delivered meal program for homebound seniors unable to shop and cook for themselves.

Recognizing the dire need for seniors in our community to be fed and cared for, the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust recently granted Banner Olive Branch Senior Center $100,000 to support this increased demand for services.

“Banner Olive Branch Senior Center swiftly and admirably adapted to safely serve its housebound clientele during the pandemic to ensure client needs were assessed, nutrition needs met and connections made to combat isolation. We are pleased to support these important efforts to care for seniors in our community,” said Gene D’Adamo, President and CEO for the Pulliam Trust.

A true gift, the Pulliam Trust grant is more than just food on the table for Greta, Olive Branch Director Dawn Gielau explains. “Greta expressed that she feels blessed to know she’ll receive a hot, healthy meal delivered right to her door, along with the security of knowing that our driver is looking out for her each day, checking on her safety and well-being, and offering a bit of companionship through the simple act of handing her a meal.”

Access to healthy food is a primary service of the Banner Olive Branch Senior Center; with health risks to seniors reaching a new pinnacle due to the pandemic, the Center is more vital than ever. Olive Branch offers three distinct food programs: the food pantry, providing grocery staples at no cost; its congregate meal program, providing low and no-cost meals; and, a home-delivered meal program, providing daily delivery of a hot meal to homebound seniors. All ensure that seniors have consistent and reliable access to foods and nutrients they need to maintain good health.

When COVID-19 hit our community hard, Olive Branch’s congregate meals program (or, meals served in a community setting), which historically offered seniors free hot, delicious and nutritious lunches Monday through Friday, was suspended for the safety of the seniors served each day, shifting its congregate meals program to a pick-up-and-go meal service. Through the home-delivered meal program, hundreds of seniors received pre-cooked, healthy meals through the delivery of one hot or ready-to-heat meal a day, Monday through Thursday, and three on Friday to cover the weekend. The program serves individuals who have difficulty shopping and/or cooking for themselves, either because of advanced age, recovery from a medical condition/procedure, or income constraints.

“The Center is more than appreciative to have partners like the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust,” Gielau says, “recognizing this important need and offering such generous support of these life-sustaining programs.”

Since the Trust began its grant making in 1998, it has awarded more than $340 million to 1,003 organizations in its home states of Arizona and Indiana. For more information about the Trust and its programs visit

*Name changed for purposes of privacy